If you want to connect an ethernet cable to a laptop without an ethernet port, well, you don’t have plenty of options. You will need to invest on a USB to Ethernet adapter.
The good news here is that these adapters do not cost much at all. You can actually have them for quite cheap. Most cost in and around $10 range. Therefore, the investment is quite minimal.
The only thing to note here is that adapters with newer USB form factors like USB 3.1 Type C tend to cost more than the conventional USB 3.0 or USB 2.0 adapters.
Guide On How To Connect Ethernet Cable To Laptop Without Ethernet Port
The first step is to find the right adapter for you.
These adapters are generally capable of interfacing with PC, MAC and Chromebooks.
Are They Plug and Play?
Some are, some are not. It also depends upon the OS that you are using.
There are few USB to Ethernet Adapters like the Amazon Basics adapter that is 100% plug and play. It requires no power and no drivers to be installed.
On the other hand, there are a few famous adapters like the Ugreen USB 3.0 to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter that will require you to install drivers from their website if you are using Windows 7 or MAC. Windows 10, fortunately, can install the drivers automatically.
The BIGGEST ISSUE with non plug and play Ethernet adapters is that you will need internet in order to install drivers. This beats the entire purpose of the adapter since you will most probably be using this to connect to the internet in the first place.
You will need to figure out a way to download the driver from elsewhere in order to use the NON plug and and play variants.
Therefore, you will need to plan ahead.
This video shows how Ugreen adapter works on a Macbook.
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Make Sure You Have the Compatible Ports
This is basically related to the USB port form factor available on your laptop. Newer laptops offers USB Type C port. Older laptops do not have Type C. Instead, they offer the USB Type A ports.
Therefore, you need to get the right adapter that is compatible with the port configuration on your laptop.
If you are using the latest Macbooks, then chances are that you would have USB Type C ports.
There are various configurations you can get for these adapters. Some are simple USB to Ethernet cables. Whereas others, like the ones from Anker, also have USB charging ports for added functionality.
Some are so extensive that they can provide multiple interfacing options including Ethernet, charging, HDMI, memory card slot via a single USB C Port.
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Why Would You Want To Connect Ethernet Cable To A Laptop
Most of the newer premium laptops are beginning to drop the Ethernet Ports altogether. Why? In the quest to make the slimmest possible machines, the size of the RJ45 Ethernet port is quite a trouble.
Since WiFi is quite capable and wireless networks can be found almost everywhere, Ethernet Ports are rarely used these days.
Therefore, similar to how the optical drives were phased out to save weight and size, Ethernet ports are beginning to go obsolete as well in the consumer market.
However, there are a certain situations where you would have wished you had Ethernet Port.
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1. Slow WiFi
If you are far away from the nearest router, then you really have two options. You either get a WiFi Signal Booster, or you get yourself an Ethernet Adapter.
The benefit of Ethernet Adapter is that it can easily be carried around everywhere and does not require you to access the router settings every time you need internet in the new location.
With WiFi Signal Booster, you would be required to perform some sort of configuration.
2. Reliability And Latency
If you need a constant connection without any interruption from the EM noise or other environmental factors, Ethernet is the better option.
Ethernet speed and connection is reliable. That is why most of corporate and office environments, especially those dealing with IT infrastructure, rely heavily on Ethernet.
Another factor that is related to this is Latency. Latency, or ping rate, is the delay when sending the packets of data. Bad latency can seriously matter in scenarios where even a few milliseconds matter. It is a HUGE consideration for gamers.
If you are working in a corporate environment that has extremely sensitive data, then you will almost never be allowed to use WiFi.
WiFi is a lot more prone to hacking than the closed connection of Ethernet. No matter how secure your WiFi password is, nothing is safe while it is on WiFi.
If you are an avid traveler, then having an Ethernet Port is an essential feature to have. You never know what the internet connectivity situation will be like at the destination.
Just make sure that before you get any USB to Ethernet adapter for your laptop, you install all the required drivers before hand if it does not have Plug and Play support.
5. WiFi Modem is Dead
Of course if your WiFi Modem in the laptop is dead or malfunctioning, the Ethernet Port will seriously come in handy.
In most cases, it would be cheaper to get yourself the USB to Ethernet adapter then to have your WiFi modem fixed. This is especially true if your warranty period has expired.
Do You Have Any Other Options?
If you are looking for alternative to connecting Ethernet Cable to Laptop that does not have an RJ45 port, then you can look into WiFi Signal Boosters or external WiFi Adapters.
WiFi Signal Booster
If speed is the main reason why you want Ethernet Connectivity, you can fix this issue by getting yourself a WiFi Signal Booster.
They are slightly more expensive than the Ethernet adapters, but can generally get the job done really well.
It will require some configuration and can be slightly tougher to configure as compared to just connecting an Ethernet cable.
However, the information on the manuals should more than suffice.
External WiFi Adapter
If the internal WiFi modem on your laptop is damaged or malfunctioning, then you can get an external WiFi adapter for very cheap.
These are extremely small devices that cost as much as the USB to Ethernet adapters. Therefore, they are a great alternatives in this case.
Andrew White is the founder of TechGearoid, a leading technology review & information website that is designed to help consumers make better decisions when it comes to their IT purchases. As a specialist tech writer (nerd) with over 10 years of experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern technology & the newest market innovations. When he isn’t providing value for his readers, he’s usually drinking coffee or at the beach. Andrew lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and family.